Jesus THE King, or YOUR King?

During our Sunday afternoon meal and fellowship, I found myself conversing with a 15 year old in our congregation, who had been studying Rousseau's Social Contract theory. I expressed a vague, very undogmatic, uncomfortableness with its with Scriptural principles of government. Then I came across an Imprimis article just now, asserting that US citizenship is not by birth alone, but that a pre-requisite should be one's willingness to give allegiance to the good 'ole US of A. The Founders self-consciously rejected the common law of England as recorded in Blackstone, stating that a subject owes to his ruler an intrinsic debt of gratitude that cannot be altered, forfeited or cancelled. This is the very thing the American Founders rejected, turning instead to Rousseau's Social Contract.

Now, here's the deal. On the face of it, doesn't it seem that the Kingdom of God's politics fit far better with Blackstone than with Rousseau? Jesus is the king, even if we don't want Him. He is the Lord, even if we reject Him. One cannot renounce one's own created status before God, and declare independence from Him. This was the essence of the first sin in the Garden. Then again, God DID allow that to happen. He allows many to continue living, in rejection of His lordship. We can deny allegiance to Him, and He in His patience, gives us time to repent.

The question is, are we allowed by God to lay aside allegiance to an earthly ruler, given his sinful rule? In America, the answer is easily yes. We are used to voting with our feet, and usually find great personal satisfaction (even vengeance) in doing so. Our pietistic "make Jesus king of your heart" kind of stuff doesn't help balance this, any. Like we're doing Jesus a favor believing in Him. Sometimes we point to verses like, "We must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29). Yet this was spoken at a God-ordained time of transition in leadership from the Sanhedrin to the Apostles, when the former were rejecting Jesus. Where is the Scriptural warrant for laying aside political obligation to one's tribe and forming one's own nation? Not simply disobeying an ungodly law, like Daniel does (Dan 6:10), but rejecting the rule of those who rule over you, starting your own country in the process?

On the other hand, is there an area where Scripture gives leeway for varying interpretations? Most would agree that Scripture does not command one form of church government, whether episcopal, presbyterian or congregational. (or doesn't it?) Is this the same, where Scripture doesn't command, one way or the other?


Communion Exhortation - 7/13/08

This Table sets the pattern for all other tables. This past week we found ourselves teaching our children about helping others at the table. If you are eating hamburgers, and someone asks for the ketchup, you have to look about you to see if the ketchup is near you, and your responsibility to pass. One of the central concerns of the prophets was for Israel to do justice and to love mercy. The fat, sleek, rich and powerful hoarded the goods and oppressed the poor. They did not discern the body. We must also be careful today to discern the body of Christ. This means knowing who you can reckon a Christian, and why. It means knowing when and how to help a fellow believer in their need. It means looking about you when that need comes to the surface. These are not things that we do here, but they flow from our table etiquette here, as we discern Christ’s body in faith. Jesus laid down His body to serve you, His people. So here, we receive from the Lord. But we then ought to turn & lay down our lives for one another.

Scripture of the day

Hezekiah's reforms in 2 Chronicles 29-30

2 things strike me, from this passage:
1. The priests were behind the curve in revival of Yahweh worship, when they should have been leading the charge.

2. God favored their actions, even though they were technically against the law (all worshiping the second month, when some were still unclean). Without the clear approval of God, many would condemn this kind of thing absolutely. But God calls us to perfection, without being a perfectionist.


New Gardening Technique

My "not Garden of Eden" garden is getting larger. The vegetables are still water-logged and the zucchini have a white powdery fungus on their leaves. Not much hope left there. However, I have been adding flowers around the house to brighten things up. In the process, I think I've created a new gardening technique.

I call it Resurrection Gardening.

Square foot gardening, lasagna gardening...all too easy. Where's the challenge in buying live, healthy plants, sticking them in fertile soil, then sitting back to watch them grow? My Resurrection Gardening technique is more akin to extreme sports - buy plants that are nearly dead (or severely stress them yourself by ruthless dividing, transplanting, etc), then work like crazy to keep them alive and nurse them back to a rich, green state. It's all about how close to the line you can come. Anyone see the movie "Flatliners"? You get the idea. So my flower beds are full, but might remind you of a Morticia Addams garden. Trust me, this is a much more thrilling way to do gardening, and you can usually buy nearly-dead plants at a very low cost.

I think I'll write a book about it.


Misplaced Faith in Reason

"Well, brethren, to sum up a great many things in one, faith is to us a great enlargement of our souls. Men who are morbidly anxious to possess a self-consistent creed, -- a creed which they can put together, and form into a square, like a Chinese puzzle, -- are very apt to narrow their souls. Fancying that all truth can be comprehended in half-a-dozen formulae, they reject as worthless every doctrinal statement which cannot be comprehended" (Charles Spurgeon, An All-Round Ministry, p. 23).

Sermon shavings

After Solomon, in northern Israel, in 2 Kings, there are:
-7 kings, ending with worst, Ahab.
-Then Elijah and Elisha. Elijah does 7 miracles; Elisha 14
-Then 7 more kings, ending with destruction and exile

Similarities between Moses and Elijah:
Both confront a wicked king, flee into the desert, meet God on Sinai, and lead Israel in renewing covenant with God on a mountain. When Elijah dies, Elisha as Joshua crosses the Jordan.
One example to go deeper: Elijah is fed by ravens, which are unclean, representing Gentiles. Moses is sustained in the desert by Jethro, a Gentile. Israel is sustained in exile by Babylon, Gentiles. And Jesus is sustained in his ministry through women, from Herod’s own treasury.

Not the Garden of Eden

The garden of Eden had 4 rivers going through it, so I imagine that it was a well-watered place, not a desert-cactus type of garden. Four rivers must've made for some pretty damp soil. My garden has some pretty damp soil, too, especially when the kids leave the garden hose running and it drips away all night. However, my garden is not up to Eden standards. Sure it's lush and green, but there isn't much fruit to eat. In fact, Adam and Eve would've starved to death in this garden. We've picked about a dozen green beans, 4 leaves of lettuce, and although there are NINE zucchini plants growing, only one small zucchini can be found. And it looks like he gave up growing.

This gardener is not deterred; I will take dominion of the land! My gut instinct is that the reclaimed swamp we're living on has very poor drainage. The ground is slimy muck. So I'm off to find something to add to the soil to loosen it up a bit. Any ideas?

Dance as Spiritual Warfare

The battle between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent is a most peculiar war. Our enemies wish upon us our destruction. We seek for our enemies’ redemption. They want us to go away. We want them to come with us. We dance not to win a strategic plot of land, nor to win an election. We are not whipping ourselves into a frenzy of wrath. We are instead entering into a season of joy. We dance in part to win souls. It is our hope that our joy, our joy that our hope would be the very brilliance of a city set upon a hill. It is our prayer that those who hide behind their curtains watching us would respond with longing, that they would come and join the dance. We dance because they are the enemy. We dance because we love them. We dance as well because when we were still enemies, the Lord of the Dance danced for us.

RC Sproul, Jr.


Who do you worship?

I never noticed the apparent connection between 2 Chronicles 7:6 and Daniel 3:7.

2 Chron 7:6
And the priests attended to their services; the Levites also with instruments of the music of the Lord, which King David had made to praise the Lord, saying, "For His mercy endures forever," whenever David offered praise by their ministry. The priests sounded trumpets opposite them, while all Israel stood.

Dan 3:7
when all the people heard the sound of the horn, flute, harp, and lyre, in symphony with all kinds of music, all the people, nations, and languages fell down and worshiped the gold image which King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

The literary connection reminds us and Daniel of true worship in Jerusalem, and how this is false, counterfeit, idolatrous worship, but with the same "worship style."


Communion exhortation - 7/6/08

Sermon text: 2 Samuel 7
Sermon theme: God's covenant with David

Adam was placed in Eden on the mountain. Abraham first worshiped God at Shechem, on or near a mountain and trees. Israel worshiped at Sinai, ascending the mtn to eat and drink with God. David established the temple on Mt Zion, wrote psalms of ascent to sing as they went up the mtn to the temple, and Isaiah expects worshipers to call each other to worship saying, Come let us go up to the mountain of the Lord. We do not worship at Mt Sinai, but at Mt Zion, Hebrews says. The ultimate sacrifice was offered on Mt Calvary, as Jesus was lifted up and drew many to Himself. But, back to the days of the kings and prophets, Israel committed idolatry on the high places, under every green tree. Even the best kings were usually not strong enough or righteous enough to stop it. And so, even on the mtn, in the heart of the garden, we find we must eat of the Lord’s table or the table of demons, but we cannot join with both. One will drive out the other. From where are you seeking life and nourishment? Today, the world’s high places call you from the shopping malls, board rooms, Hollywood sets, and legislative halls. These are places where you can worship God faithfully, but it is tricky given the worldly allure.
But don’t be fooled. You are on Mt Zion, gathered spiritually with all the Church in heaven and on earth. Even here, the temptation is great to go through the motions of faith outwardly, while inwardly you have some other god before Yahweh.
Direct your heart and your life to Jesus Christ. Look to Him for your salvation, provision, forgiveness. You are seated at the King’s table, and He has made you His son, His daughter. Do you trust Him? You don’t need perfect faith. You need to acknowledge there is no other Savior than Jesus. You need to cry out to Him to help your unbelief. If you do, then the important thing is done. Not that you know Jesus so well. But that God knows you, and has kept His promise to you in the Son of David: God will be a Father to you; and you are His child. In that joy and happiness, we eat and drink at His table.

Communion Exhortation - 6/29/08

Sermon text: Exodus 24:1-8
Sermon theme: God's Covenant with Israel at Sinai

When Moses asked God to remember His promises to Abraham, God relented from destroying Israel. When we ask God to remember His promises to Christ, God relents from destroying us. His angel of death passes over us. Instead He brings us out of bondage to idolatry back to Himself, gives us His Word, and then invites us closer to eat and drink with Him on His mountain. For Israel, this all happened through Moses. But he was just a servant faithful in building God’s house – Jesus is the Son who owns the house. He is the one mediator b/t God and man. You haven’t come to Sinai, but to the heavenly Zion. God has redeemed you, forgiven you, consecrated you with His Word, and now called you to Himself on His mountain to eat and drink in fellowship and peace with Him.

So we can pass through the veil, through the cherubim-guarded gate, through the blood of Jesus Christ. As His body was broken, so the veil was torn. And we are invited to sit as His nation of kings and priests in the Holy Place, and eat the bread of the presence of God.
And so it is not the words of Moses or a common ancestry, race or economic status that bind us together, but the body of Jesus our Passover, sacrificed for us, the sign of which we pass now. It is not Reformed theology that binds us together, but the blood of Christ. It is not a commitment to homeschooling or family integration that binds us together, it is Jesus Christ. “From the fullness of His grace we have all received grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” Just as Israel was all baptized into Moses and all drank from the rock which was Christ in the desert, so we have all been baptized into one Body drinking of the same Spirit. Though many, we are one bread, partaking of the one bread, which is Christ.

Communion Exhortation - 6/15/08

Text: Genesis 12-22
Theme: God's Covenant with Abraham

Abraham received bread and wine from Melchizedek, and offered a tithe back to him. We commune now with our great high priest, the one after the order of Melchizedek, Jesus Christ. We have given Him our tithe, and now receive bread and wine from Him, through His elder representatives. We do this because we believe God’s promises to forgive us our sins in Jesus Christ and to walk with us as our God. We believe because God first called us to Himself, changing our hard, rebellious hearts back towards Him.
At the table our children sit down and find food prepared for them. This is grace. We lead them that we need to respond to this grace with the duty of thanksgiving. So we pray before we eat, thanking God for the food, and telling Him we trust Him for our daily bread. Here at this Table, which sets the pattern for our family tables, we do the same. We experience and see God’s grace – a full table – our need for a savior provided. So we thank Him, and part of being thankful is eating what is set before you. Part of faith is trusting your father and mother to know what you live by, what is best for you to eat. We live not just by bread, but by the words that come from God. Trust Him. You need Jesus. You need God to accept His body as a sacrifice instead of yours. You need to be united with that Body, and so we eat this bread.

No neutrality

"There is not a spot in heaven or on earth about which there is no dispute between the two opposing parties [theism and atheism]."

Cornelius Van Til
Survey of Christian Epistemology, pg 116


Faster. Better?

I have a new computer, which makes for faster internet.
Maybe more consistent posting in the future.
Here is one for starters:

Garrison Kellior’s story of the “brethren”:

Unfortunately, once free of the worldly Anglicans, these firebrands were not content to worship in peace but turned their guns on each other. Scholarly to the core and perfect literalists every one, they set to arguing over points that, to any outsider, would have seemed very minor indeed but which to them were crucial to the Faith, including the question: if Believer A is associated with Believer B who has somehow associated himself with C who holds a False Doctrine, must D break off association with A, even though A does not hold the Doctrine, to avoid the taint? The correct answer is: Yes. Some Brethren, however, felt that D should only speak with A and urge him to break off with B. The Brethren who felt otherwise promptly broke off with them. This was the Bedford Question, one of several controversies that, inside of two years, split the Brethren into three branches. Once having tasted the pleasure of being Correct and defending True Doctrine, they kept right on and broke up at every opportunity, until, by the time I came along, there were dozens of tiny Brethren groups, none of which were speaking to any of the others.